Rare talent

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

AT FIRST glance, Santi Colminas Rublico seems just like any other regular Filipino kid.

His small, thin frame would make you believe that he wasn’t into any competitive sport.

However, as soon as he laces his boots and steps foot onto the pitch, anybody that knows, loves and follows football would be dazzled by the talent that this eight-year-old possesses.


Santi has impressive ball-handling skills, impeccable passing and to top that, he has power and accuracy in his shot despite his frail-looking body. He displayed that after a short practice with 13 to 17 year-old players of Abellana National School at the Cebu City Sports Center pitch yesterday.

Santi is indeed something special because he plays for the prebenjamin or the Under-8 team of one of the biggest football clubs in Spain – Atlético Madrid.

“He was always into football ever since. One of the coaches from Atletico (Madrid) saw him in a park playing and invited him,” said Ana Marie Rublico, Santi’s mother, told Sun.Star Cebu.

Santi was born on Aug. 16, 2005 in Madrid, Spain to Filipino parents Ana Marie and Arnold Rublico. Ana, a Cebuana, is a receptionist in a restaurant, while Arnold is a company driver.

Ana Marie, who was ecstatic while telling Santi’s story, said that Santi was one of the chosen few out of thousands of players in a series of screening processes by Atlético Madrid’s football school. At six years old, he was already with the club.

Santi’s natural position is at center midfield but he also plays right wing.

Santi is here in Cebu for vacation and is keeping himself busy with swimming, and football practices and exhibition matches with local grassroots club Dynamo FC.

“He still plays football with his friends on his free times and sometimes he plays football games with his Nintendo,” said Ana Marie.

Santi is dead serious with his football and hopes to become professional player when he grows up.

“I want to be a professional football player and be famous,” said the Spanish-speaking Santi, who idolizes Brazilian midfielder and former Atlético Madrid player Diego Ribas.

The weekly regimen of Atlético Madrid is very rigid; wherein they practice on the grass pitch twice a week and futsal, which is being aggressively promoted by the Cebu Football Association here in Cebu, also twice a week. They also have drills and play league matches every Fridays or Saturdays.

Santi was part of the championship prebenjamin team of Atlético Madrid that beat rival club Real Madrid last year.

“I prefer to pass than to shoot,” said Santi, who will be in Grade 4 at the Colegio Mesonero Romanos when school resumes in September.

Ana Marie is very supportive with his son’s football dreams, putting a lot of investment into it.

However, whether Santi wants to represent Spain or maybe the Philippine Azkals in international competition, or even play professionally in the biggest clubs in Europe in the future, Ana Marie still emphasizes the importance of education.

“I want him to attain something academically because won’t be playing football forever,” said Ana Marie, who is a graduate of HRM at Southwestern University. “He really loves football but he has to balance it with his academics.”

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 24, 2014.


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